Skip to content

Prostate Enlargement/BPH Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Enlarged Prostate: A Complex Problem

There are many treatments for enlarged prostates (BPH), but all have side effects and possible complications. Learn what to expect -- and how to decide.

Deciding on Treatment for an Enlarged Prostate

A range of treatments can relieve enlarged prostate symptoms -- medications, minimally-invasive office procedures, and surgery. The best one for you depends on your symptoms, how severe they are, and whether you have other medical conditions.

The size of your prostate gland, your age, and your overall health will also factor into treatment decisions. What's best for a man in his 50s might not be optimal for an 80-year-old. An older man may want immediate symptom relief through drugs or surgery, whereas a younger man may lean toward a minimally invasive treatment. According to the American Urological Association, surgery often does the best job of relieving symptoms, but it also has more risks than other treatments.

Consider the options carefully with your doctor, says Westney. "We can start with medications, and if there's no improvement, we look at minimally invasive therapy to reduce a portion of the prostate," she tells WebMD. "These procedures are very effective, and side effects are very rare."

If symptoms are really bothersome -- or if you have complications like urine retention -- it may be best to bypass medication. The minimally invasive treatments have benefits over surgery, like quick recovery time; however, you may need a second procedure later on. There is also less risk of serious side effects like long-term incontinence or erection problems -- which can occur rarely with surgery.

Medications for an Enlarged Prostate

Several drugs are FDA-approved to relieve common symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Each works differently, says Westney. They either shrink the enlarged prostate or stop the prostate cell growth, she explains. "For many men, medications are very effective," Westney tells WebMD. "They have a significant change in symptoms, and side effects are very uncommon … so medications are an attractive treatment."

Doctors use the BPH Index to gauge how the patient responds to medication, Westney adds. "We see how symptoms are progressing … if they've stabilized or not."

Alpha blockers: These drugs don't reduce the size of the prostate, but they are very effective at relieving symptoms. They work by relaxing the muscles around the prostate and bladder neck, so urine can flow more easily. These drugs work quickly, so symptoms improve within a day or two. They are most effective for men with normal to moderately enlarged prostate glands.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Today on WebMD

Male Incontinence Slideshow
Slideshow
screening tests for men
SLIDESHOW
 
What Is The Prostate
REFERENCE
Foods To Boost Mens Heath
SLIDESHOW
 
Enlarged Prostate BPH Complex Problem
FEATURE
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia BPH Surgery
FEATURE
 
How Bad Are Urinary Symptoms From Benign Prostatic
TOOL
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia BPH Exams And Tests
FEATURE
 
Treating Enlarged Prostate
VIDEO
What Is The Prostate
FEATURE
 
Marks Prostate Enlarged
Video
Low Testosterone Explained When Levels Are Too Low
Feature
 

WebMD Special Sections